Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I am in the midst of teaching my online class The Painted Sky. It's a wonderful time of year for it- the big cumulus clouds are building up in the afternoons, and the heat and humidity are creating wonderful hazy light and spectacular sunsets. I've also been doing some field research on sketching methods for my new online class Field Sketching for Landscape Painters which I'll be teaching this fall.
As part of my classes and workshops, I always include some art history and use both contemporary and historical examples to demonstrate concepts we are learning. In the case of this new class, my goal is to give students some basic information and tools to study Nature in the field and gather reference material for studio works. So many aspiring landscape painters are simply taken outdoors to paint without any preparation, drawing skills, or basic knowledge of composition and values. In fact, this is the standard model, such as it is, for training for landscape painters today.
If we go back and look at how landscape painters learned their craft and art in the 18th and 19th centuries, we will see that a rich tradition of drawing and sketching was undertaken in the field, both in close studies of individual elements like trees, rocks and plants and general sketching of compositions. Painted studies followed these efforts. So, I try to incorporate these methods in my teaching, providing not only techniques but examples of these works.
This study started with a simple thumbnail sketch of a sky observed in my backyard.
Using toned paper was a well known technique for making sky studies in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The paper creates a value for the sky and midtones, shadows and highlights can be created with the black and white charcoal and white pastel. It is particularly well suited for cloud studies. Here's a detail of the drawing. All of the images can be clicked on for a larger view.